Move over rental bikes -- you've got four-wheel competition.
As Columbus begins to implement a bike-sharing program downtown this summer, an international car-sharing company also is trying to establish an office in the capital city.
Car2go North America is seeking neighborhood support for a plan that would put 200 or so two-seaters in the city center and surrounding urban areas.
"Columbus definitely is an interesting city for car2go," said Katie Stafford, spokeswoman for the company's North American office, based in Austin, Texas.
"We think it would be a great match," she said.
Basically, the company would carve out a service area in the city's urban core for the "smart" cars.
Customers, who join the company for $35, have access to the cars with a personal ID card. The plan is to have all cars within a five-minute walk in the service area.
Stafford said it's unclear when the program would begin in Columbus.
Car2go officials will negotiate with the city on parking-meter charges used by the cars and the purchase of residential parking permits.
Car2go vehicles rent for 38 cents per minute, although there are hourly and daily rates. Stafford said 98 percent of rentals are for one-way trips.
A Columbus office would be established and staffed with up to 10 people, who would be responsible for maintenance, cleaning and refueling cars, Stafford said.
The initiative has found some early support in German Village.
In a letter to Erin Miller, the city's environmental steward, the German Village Society's long-range planning committee said it welcomed "modern innovations and novel ideas while still maintaining a specific focus on historic preservation through protecting our neighborhood's streetscape and unique aesthetics."
"We feel that car2go's mission is line with our vision of an eco-friendly future and could be helpful for both residents and visitors from other cities traveling to Columbus," Matt Eschelbrenner, the committee's chairman, wrote to the city.
Germany-based automotive manufacturer Daimler founded car2go four years ago in Stuttgart and opened its North American branch three years ago in Austin.
The program is located in several major U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., Miami, San Diego and Portland, Ore.
Stafford said owning a car in a big city can be a hassle and cost-prohibitive. The car2go program is an advantage for those traveling a short distance with a quick, inexpensive ride.
Columbus is about to launch a bike-sharing program in downtown and surrounding communities.
The effort, to be in place by July, will put 30 kiosks and 300 bicycles on the streets of downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, including the Short North, German Village and the Brewery District.